Former Cairndhu rower ready for Oxford and Cambridge battle

Cambridge rower Calum MacRae . Image: James Lee
Cambridge rower Calum MacRae . Image: James Lee

A Cairncastle student will this weekend play his part in one of the UK’s most celebrated sporting occasions.

Former Cairndhu Rowing Club rower Calum MacRae will be in the Goldie boat for Sunday’s epic annual battle between Oxford and Cambridge on the River Thames in London.

Calum’s early rowing experiences were gained with Cairndhu where he won a gold medal at the all-Ireland coastal rowing championships in Kerry in 2015, also winning Cairndhu’s Top Crew medal that year.

Calum started training with Cambridge University Boat Club when left school to go and study languages at Cambridge.

He told his mother and father - his father John is originally from Glenarm Rd in Larne - “you can do language studies anywhere, but if you want to race in the Boat Race, you have to go to Oxford or Cambridge”. So Cambridge it was.

Calum describes the training to make the final eight that will crew Goldie as “monumentally brutal”. It started with rowing machine sessions out in the garage in Cairncastle late last summer and escalated when term started in September. Early morning training at the boat house at Ely near Cambridge, lectures mid morning then back on the river in the afternoon. No time to enjoy the views of the sun coming up over the river Cam, if your numbers slip there’s another dozen rowers competing for your place on the boat on race day. If you feel like having a duvet day, no problem, there’s a dozen rowers that will be up and at it, eyeing up your seat.

And talking of numbers, Calum says the data they collect is “as complicated as a moon mission”. He adds: “They measure your heart rate, temperature, stroke rate, power per stroke and boat power in real time. It all comes on up on graphs and charts that the coaches look at, so the old saying really is true, you have to pull your weight.”

Calum’s race - Goldie versus Isis - will take place at 2.45pm on Sunday, April 7.